Mind and music

Treating Trauma Through Guided Imagery and Music: Where Words Fail, Music Heals

Trauma goes deep. Literally, traumatic memories are stored DEEP in the Midbrain, which controls your fight or flight response. Traditional talk therapy occurs primarily in the frontal cortex where we process logic. When emotions arise your brain pings the Limbic System, then returns to other places to try and “manage” what’s come up.

When MUSIC is incorporated into the therapeutic process both sides of the brain are engaged simultaneously, helping them to help one another. In the case of trauma this is where the magic happens, this is where a new experience with old feelings and responses can be transformative.

Research tells us that in order to release trauma one must face it, but not in the way they have before, not reliving the old story. Trauma is released in the evolution of the new story, which can often involve literally interacting differently. Most people can’t, or don’t want to go back to the site of their initial trauma, so they simply hope time will diminish the effects. 

The Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM)

In the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM), clients, or “travelers” choose their own focus for the session. The training of the clinician allows them to select the right music program (collections of pieces) to support an internal, interactive process, and then skillfully “guide” the traveler through the session with prompts and affirmation.

What comes out? It’s like having an awake dream, anything goes. Body sensations, visions, realizations and a chance to make your own choices in the moment emerge from the subconscious. A GIM practitioner will never tell you to “open the door,” or “stand up to that person and tell them how it is!” They may, however, invite you to notice how something is experienced and hold the space for you to do those things yourself. This process is sort of like a dry run for trying out new reactions. I mean, really, who wouldn’t like a do-over in life? 

After the music portion is complete, travelers are invited to draw a Mandala (an ancient form of expression drawing within a circle) to further explore their adventure in the music. All of these segments provide insight into the original “intention” and often dictate how the client moves forward in their personal healing and growth process.  

GIM is an experience, not just a discussion. Music Therapy can accelerate resolution because of its unique properties. For anyone who is “stuck” and has tried other modalities unsuccessfully, or is just ready for a fresh approach, your chariot awaits!

AmyLynn Dimaano
AmyLynn Dimaano

AmyLynn Dimaano is a Board Certified Music Therapist and Drug & Alcohol Counselor specializing in the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music. She works with individuals in her studio, called H.O.P.E. (Helping Others Purposely Evolve) located in Redlands, CA by appointment only.  Find out MORE about the GIM process: https://musicempowers.com/what-is-gim/

Metal singing bowls

Ticket to HOPE: The Healing Power of Music

Have you ever wondered why making someone a “mixed tape” was an 80’s feel-good way to express yourself and let the truth come to the surface? (If you’re too young to know what a mixed tape is, ask your parents J).  Do you have a playlist that helps you get through: A tough workout at the gym?  A low mood or Anxiety about the presentation you’ll be giving in the morning at work? If music seems to me a magic healer, it IS, and you can use it for just about everything that needs mending.  Here’s why:

You use both sides of your brain to process any and all types of music. This means the brain sections that access logic and the sections that manage emotions work together. Additionally, your pulse and heartbeat will automatically align with the rhythms and tempos of the music around you, the scientific term for this process is called Entrainment. 

So, consider adding music to the prescription in these not so commonly thought of situations:

1.      At the dentist (or anywhere you feel afraid): Choose slow, soothing selections with minimal instrumentation and words to help restore your breathing in challenging scenarios. Lyrics activate our “thinking” brain, so pick ambient tracks to lower mental stress. Carry your play list in your phone so you’re always ready to implement!

2.     To ramp up productivity or wind down from the world: Most of us already sweat to the oldies, but how often do we use music to halt procrastination patterns or purposely slow our body rhythms in preparation for sleep? Play lists with a consistent back beat will literally move your body, so why not use music as an action step when the “to do” list is gathering dust? The human body is made of 90% water. Vibrations affect our blood flow and encourage the brain to release adrenaline, which helps us get going. Likewise, everything the blinks, breathes, or waves will respond to slower, steady rhythms and volumes. We sign off of the electronics at a certain time of night to signal to the body that sleep is near, either sign off music at a certain time or choose less stimulating sounds to begin shutting your active receptors down. 

3.     Connect spiritually/use as a self-assessment tool: Do you find yourself humming a song you haven’t thought of in ages? Or responding strongly to a tune playing over the speaker in the supermarket? Take a moment to listen to yourself and to connect to something “Higher” than yourself. What significance does that song bring, what memory is triggered, what lesson is offered?  We are our own best healers, especially when music is helping us along. 

HOPE (Helping Others Purposely Evolve) Studio is a wellness space offering group and individual Music Therapy sessions. We specialize in Trauma, Grief, Addiction, Depression, Anxiety and Personal Growth. Check the calendar for happenings, join our mailing list, or call AmyLynn to schedule or for more information. 909-809 4150

Check out Amy’s website at musicempowers.com

AmyLynn Dimaano
AmyLynn Dimaano